Big relief and a lot of excitement - those were the predominent sensations for participants heading for the 2023 edition of the 'love your ocean' platform coordinated by the German Ocean Foundation at the international Boot fair in Düsseldorf, Germany. After a two-year break due to the pandemic Mundus maris was happy to be on board together with Quantitative Aquatics, the scientific non-profit running the global databases FishBase, SeaLifeBase and Aquamaps. We were in good company with other organisations committed to ocean literacy, recovery and protection and contributing to the UN Decade for Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, 2021-2030.

Q-quatics was again present with the Fish Sound Quiz extracted from the global database on all fish species described by scientists. That never fails to surprise visitors without diving experience, who think that fish are mute and there are hardly any noises around in the water, except perhaps the lovely chatter of dolphins or the occasional whale song. Coming away from the quiz, they marvelled about the thumping and crunching the fish would mostly produce with their swim bladder and pharyngal teeth.

Of course, the ocean is all but silent, not the least because of wave action. However, the elefant in the room is the massive noise made by merchant ship propellers and, worse, the explosions provoked for fossil fuel exploration which disrupt the orientation capacity of mammals and other marine life.

The extraordinary increase of human-made noise in the ocean is now recognised as a threat to marine life and research is ongoing to seek ways to reduce it.

Some early results were on display at the fair, but roll-out will take time. Reducing speed of shipping traffic is probably the easiest way to cut back noise levels. An added advantage is lower consumption of fossil fuels, not to mention less congestion in busy ports.

The Ocean Quiz was another way to test one's knowledge about the ocean, ocean life and how to lower our impact. The wide range of questions offered something for almost every taste.

Players, young and old, were invited to chose among multiple answers to the quiz questions. These were graded by age, so that even the youngest could joyfully participate.

Quite a few kids demonstrated excellent ocean literacy for their age, some exceeding the knowledge of their elders.

The ocean quiz ran almost non-stop for the nine days of the fair. Throwing the dice seemed irresistable for many, whether playing or just passing by.

It was fun for the players and the Mundus maris team alike.

Another attraction courtesy Mundus maris was the FishBase Guide app for android devices. The app offers key information about fish in the global database of all 35,000 species, FishBase.

What makes it so attractive is the possibility to search with any of more than 300,000 common names in some 300 languages.

The promotional card of the app has the QR-code on the reverse for easy download.


Upon typing the common name, it will show the picture of the fish if it is already recorded and provide selected information to help orient anglers, fish lovers, buyers, fishers and anybody wanting to let small and juvenile fish grow to adult size.

Thus, the app shows the minimum size for reproduction, the optimum length and the maximum ever recorded. Harvesting wild fish at optimum length would mean maximum catches for ever. This way the small ones with low individual weight as well as the biggest females crucial for the reproduction of a healthy population would be spared.

The app turned out to be a great starting point for a more in-depth conversation. While the ocean and more general interest in water sports were a common denominator, it was remarkable to note the diversity of background, specific experience and interest of the visitors.

Those stopping were the ones already to some extent interested in the protection of the ocean and marine life. Altogether some 700 visitors showed interest in the app during the fair and some indicated their interest to go further and contribute to our work in one way or another.

Last but not least Mundus maris contributed to the stage programme that was running all day for the entire duration of the fair.

Almost every day, Cornelia E Nauen presented a cross section of the organisation's work, always emphasising the need for a combination of awareness raising and promoting ocean literacy with local action. It was important to illustrate the connection between global objectives and agreements and what people experience themselves in their daily lives - and the importance of engaging in favour of social and political impact to bring about the change we need for liveable futures.

The second focus of the talks alternated between how Mundus maris supports the struggles of European low impact fishers and of men and women in artisanal fisheries in Africa. The Small-Scale Fisheries Academy (SSF Academy) under development in Senegal is testimony to what these often marginalised actors manage to achieve when adopting the approaches learnt in workshops of the academy and how they can better defend their rights threatened by run-away mostly industrial overfishing.

Two short films illustrated the respective conditions. One showed the decade long struggle of Paolo Fanciulli and the Casa dei Pesci (House of the fish) against illegal bottom trawlers in Tuscany, Italy. The other illustrated the achievements of Nabia N'Gom, a micro-fish monger and an active member of the SSF Academy in Yoff, Senegal. The slides of the overall presentation are available here. Claudia Mense skillfully organised the participation of Mundus maris.

In sum, participation on the 'love your ocean' platform was a great success well worth the effort. The positive echo from the visitors confer hope that more and more citizens realise how important it is to participate actively in public life and policy to recover and protect the ocean and our future.

The local press covered the participation of Mundus maris with Quantitative Aquatics/FishBase before and after the fair.

Unless indicated otherwise, photos are by Mundus maris asbl.